Anthony Dohrmann speaks with David Wright on his show, The Business Lounge, about the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.
David: I have a very special guest with me today who just literally flew in from southern New Mexico, Mr. Tony Dohrmann, entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Electronic Caregiver. Tony, thank you for being on the show today.
Thank you, David. Thank you for having me.
Tell the people a little bit about who Tony Dohrmann is.
I think I’m the poster child for the typical entrepreneur. The person that doesn’t want somebody to tell them what kind of car they are going to drive doesn’t want their future to be capped and designed by somebody else’s ideals. Entrepreneurs want the freedom to create, and they want the freedom to be able to push the envelope. And they like to think big, they pursue big ventures. And I think that we like to multitask. Certainly, we need a lot to keep our minds stimulated. And so, being an entrepreneur lets us get our hands and our fingers into a lot of different things. Consequently, we’re bringing up these new businesses, and it’s exciting. The bottom line is being an entrepreneur is exciting all the time.
Most people dream of owning their own business. They have a dream. What made you take that dream or that vision and move it into an actionable state? What made you become the entrepreneur you are today?
Well, I think it was a combination of things. For instance, it was growing up in kind of a tough environment, came from a broken home, and was out on my own very young. And I think this is common for a lot of entrepreneurs. I had a chip on my shoulder, had something to prove.
David: I think sometimes what happens, and that’s one thing we have in common, that I, too, grew up in a broken home. My mom raised us. She was heavy-handed, but that’s probably why I didn’t end up incarcerated or dead or selling drugs or the like, is that I had that formation very young. And although it did limit me in some ways, it also gave me time to explore new avenues that I wouldn’t have explored often to the future.
If I’m a young budding entrepreneur and I want to transition, maybe I’m working today, it doesn’t matter what the job is. I’ve always had a dream for a product or a dream for a business. What would you tell that person? What would be the top three things on the list that you can tell that person?
Well, I think when we’re talking about this, it brings back a lot. I remember I wanted to be out on my own. I wanted to get away from a tough environment at home. So I think work, in a way, was my saving grace, right? I wanted to be able to take care of myself, so I could afford to be out of the home. And that set me off on this adventure. And a lot of what I did was through the school of hard knocks.
But when it comes to how does a new adventure take the right steps?
I think there’s no substitute for surrounding yourself with people that have experience. And that was one of the things I was fortunate in being able to do. I think a lot of entrepreneurs, you first start, there’s a lot to learn. We have to overcome our insecurities. We’re constantly confronting fear and trying to break through, and we need encouragement and we need people that can give us solutions.
That is to say, I think the first, most important thing is to surround yourself with good mentors. I think the way that fulfills itself is in the next most important ingredient for success, which is to really plan well. And I have seen people get into paralysis of analysis. People will plan their way around their fear, so they don’t ever have to confront it. They do this dance with their fear, but they never get into action. I don’t mean that.
But you really have to surround yourself with smart people, and then you have to really invest yourself into a plan for your business. I mean, when you put a new venture together, there is so much to learn, there are so many unexpected challenges, and you really need to develop as much foresight and leverage the experience of people that have been there to help you deal with number three.
Number three is getting really good at raising capital.
And part of the plan and part of the experience that you pull from helps you to really understand what it costs to go out and create a business.
I think that’s the number one place that people fail is they have an unrealistic expectation about the expenses if you’re going to be invested full time in a business, then you can’t be full time in a job. So you’re going to have to have the resources to pay yourself. If you’re going to have staff join you, you have to have the resources to pay this staff. And everything takes longer than you think.
For example, one of the things that entrepreneurs don’t consider is mistakes. Things don’t always go right. Your first prototype has to be redesigned. You may get a product out and then get feedback or do focus group studies and find out that there’s a whole redesign. You may have a product that you get into the market, and it happens to the best of Microsoft, and Sony. I mean, they pull back a million products they spent millions of dollars putting into the marketplace, and some bug, some anomaly gets out into the market, some unexpected thing, and you have to be able to forecast and budget for mistakes and a lot of people don’t do that.
Mentors, A Good Plan, and Plenty of Capital for Entrepreneurs
So mentors, a good plan, and plenty of capital.
That’s interesting because I was always taught that fear simply is false evidence. Appearing real is when you think about fear, it’s mainly the fear that you have within yourself. So it’s really once you confront yourself, you can be successful at just about anything overcoming that fear. I think you can.
I think that when you’re doing something for the first time, we have an idea of who we are and what our capabilities are. And our dreams are usually a lot bigger than our beliefs about ourselves. And we’re our own best critics, so we are constantly criticizing and judging.
But those who know you?
In addition, there’s another thing that happens, and this is why the mentors and encouragers are so important, is that sometimes it’s our families, our siblings, our friends. We grew up with them. They knew who we were when we were twelve and 15, and all of a sudden, we’re in our mid-20s or 30s, starting off on a venture. And our own friends don’t know how to encourage us. They don’t teach a lot of the skills necessary to be an entrepreneur in school. I mean, I run these seminars where we had MBAs from Harvard come in and didn’t know how to put a basic business plan or capital plan together, how to get a team before you had the money and you needed the team to get the money, but you didn’t have the money that you needed to get the team.
How do you get through all of these things as an entrepreneur? It can be very complicated, right?
So first, you have a group of people in the population that are largely not trained through traditional education. That’s why these mentors become so important, and they don’t know how to help and how to be a blessing to encourage you to go forward. And often, they set limitations on you that are really the same limitations they set on themselves. Could I do it? I wouldn’t know how to go about that. So there’s no way George could do it or Carol could do it. Consequently, it’s tough. I think one of the biggest battles, that’s a continual battle, is a psychological battle, and a lot of it does have to do with fear and self-judgment and self-limitations we place on ourselves.
Switching gears a little bit, when you look back over the years that you’ve been developing businesses, developing people, what was the one moment that you really said, this is going to make a difference, this is how I’m going to make my mark, this is going to be my legacy?
That’s a complicated question, and I don’t know that there was any one moment. I think one of the most important moments, if I look back, what was the big aha? What was that time where I really felt like I had my cadence, I had my legs underneath of me, and I guess I gained that.
I think what it is is it’s when you gain your confidence, there’s a point where you gain your confidence. And it was never really, for me, about a specific product. It became so much more than that. It became confronting the fears, it became interpersonal relationships. The thing that became the most fulfilling, and that resulted in the confidence and the capabilities to take on bigger and bigger things, was that dedication to lifelong learning?
Lifelong learning to keep improving skills. It’s never over. It’s never done. And so I think there was a moment where I confronted the fear, and I bit off more than I can chew, and I didn’t want to end up with egg in my face. And I kept pushing through.
I had committed so big; millions of dollars in people’s capital, a team of almost 100 people working on product development, and I had retailers waiting for a product to be delivered. We had crews out in China working on manufacturing products. We had light assembly down in Mexico. The commitments were so huge, and we were constantly running out of money and running out of time. There were always so many challenges.
Do or Die for the entrepreneur
And, I mean, there’s this time where it’s this do or die moment. And I think that that’s something that’s an underlying quality of the entrepreneur. They will not quit when they sink their teeth into something. They will not give up. No matter what happens, no matter what implodes. They’re constantly looking creatively at how to pick it up and keep running, keep running with the ball, and always focused on the goal line. However, that’s something that I’m not even sure you can teach. I sometimes think people are just born with that inside of them.
What was that moment?
The moment was when I decided I would risk everything for being able to make good on the promises that I had made across the board to so many people, and I was ready to give up anything. I mean, I felt at one point I would have given up my life to be able to fulfill the promises. It wasn’t about the money. It was about the promises.
And in that moment of conviction, I did throw everything down. I mean, I did risk everything. And we had these amazing breakthroughs. And there’s something about the other side of that moment where you look back in the face of potentially losing it all and failing and then throwing everything down to win and being on the other side of that and looking back and having achieved it.
The Next Mountain
And once that happens the first time, you turn to face the next climb, the next mountain, and it’s never as terrifying anymore. You gain your confidence, and over time, you build. When you don’t give up, and you continue to persevere, people respect that. And when you look back, and you’re taking that next climb, you’re not taking it by yourself. It’s the people that, over time, have come to be able to rely and depend on you. You will be a person that will give it your all and do what they say they’re going to do.
You mention two things that often people ignore. Most certainly, one is risk. Risk everything. Risk it all, which people a lot of times do, but that’s not to throw yourself foolishly off a cliff. It is really tough taking calculated steps that you’re willing to risk going forward. But there’s one thing that really is the bedrock of all successful people that I’ve ever talked to or I’ve ever been around, and that’s a person of your work. It seems like today, it is so often that people don’t do what they say they’re going to do, and they make commitments lightly.
What would you say the biggest challenge is? Getting people to follow up and be people of their word or be people of their promise?
Well, for me, I have strong faith. I’m in church. We’re very prayerful people. I’m in the scripture all the time. And I think that you find your way of surrounding yourself with good and honest people, convicted people, people of integrity. And it’s birds of a feather, right?
Like-minded people attract more like-minded people, and that support just builds on the flip side. This is a difficult time, and you have to be patient and you have to be compelling. And you have to mine hard for good people today. There’s something about the widespread hypnosis of the clutter, the clutter, the billboards, the publications, the ads jumping out at us from everywhere. You can’t fuel your automobile without being startled by some ad on the fuel pump now trying to reach in for mind share, right? So it’s the phone, it’s the laptop, it’s in the restaurants, it’s everywhere we look.
And people have this almost unrealistic entrepreneur idea about jettisoning into success, right?
The software industry has created some interesting perspectives on that. Just because one kid happened to have coded a wonderful new application and sold it for 30 million, people get this illusion in their head that that’s the way it is. It’s all about easy success, fast success. It’s hard to get good people. And I don’t think that. You know the old remark where they say 20% of the people do 80% of the work? The 80% do nothing, right? Very little. Same old, same old. Still holds true today.
I think there are more distractions today and that it can be difficult if you don’t have a good eye for it to be able to get people that are really dedicated and really willing to work hard. There’s a real let’s get rich quick and have everything happen overnight. I think a lot of the media is responsible for that.
David Wright: Sometimes, in today’s society, we look at idols, and those idols sometimes are not the things we should be focused on. And when I think about those things, they are the undermining of society. One of those things is getting rich quick. This is a town that was built on that promise. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars here every single month trying to get rich quickly, and it hasn’t worked yet. So I think therein is evident that it does not work before.
Tony: I love the journey. It’s never about the outcome. The journey is more exciting. I’ll tell you, the most boring thing in the world is to be on the other side.
When you’re a dedicated, committed entrepreneur, you want to keep going, right? There’s no end. And it’s not about the wealth. It’s about collaboration, communication, synergies, loving the staff that we put together, the teams, the representatives, and everybody feels like family. And when you put forth a vision and a big group unites, the feeling that you get from that synergy. And then, to be able to witness the result of the combined focus and effort, you just want that. You just want that.
Above all, to see satisfied customers, people who adore what you do. Having them relay what it was working with somebody in the past that didn’t go the extra distance. Doing everything to make that customer happy like we do in our business, those are the moments of satisfaction.
At the End of an Entrepreneurs’ Day
You always feel great at the end of the day when you work hard. When you accomplished a lot and when you’re in a group. And I think for any entrepreneur, team building is one of the most important skills. You get these great mentors; you have a great plan, and you get the capital in. Team building is that critical fourth piece. And it ultimately becomes the underlying foundation underneath anything that you do, any ambition.
The interpersonal relationships, the encouragement, building people up, knowing how to find people’s strengths, getting people that have their own ideas to respect each other across different departments and different divisions, [can be tough], right? And, it’s hard if you put 20, 50, or 200 people together. They’ll have different disagreements and interpersonal relationships, and team building is often about getting them to be able to, in a moment of disagreement where they’re being divisive, come back together in the middle and come back to a place of mutual respect for one another. So there’s just so much to it. You don’t have enough time to hear everything I have to say about it.
David: Speaking of that, I think it’s time for a shameless plug.
So, where can people find out more about the Entrepreneur Tony Dohrmann and Electronic Caregiver? Let our audience know.
Well, that’s the Electronic Caregiver company. It deals with providing in-home support for the aging and the ill and providing relief for family caregivers. The easiest way is to Google “Electronic Caregiver” or go to electroniccaregiver.com. You find out about everything we do. We really make a difference out there, reducing a lot of pain and suffering. We do a lot to extend wellness and lifespan.
Learn more about the dynamic entrepreneur Anthony Dohrmann, who is the founder and CEO of Electronic Caregiver:
► Facebook: Anthony Dohrmann | Facebook
► Twitter: Anthony Dohrmann (@AnthonyDohrman) / Twitter
► LinkedIn: (1) Anthony Dohrmann | LinkedIn
► Instagram: @anthonydohrmann_575 • Instagram photos and videos
Electronic Caregiver (ECG) provides quality home health protection and emergency coverage for the ill, aging, and disabled. And having Electronic Caregiver also offers the safety for users to be anywhere and stay protected. So, with the support of the ECG’s modern technology, family caregivers and their loved ones can live better lives.
Find more about Electronic Caregiver online:
► Website: Electronic Caregiver – The Electronic Health Support System
► Facebook: Electronic Caregiver | Facebook
► Instagram Electronic Caregiver Inc. (@electroniccaregiver) • Instagram photos and videos
►Twitter: Electronic Caregiver #DigitalHealth #Healthtech (@ElectronicCare) / Twitter